on the campaign trail:

2016 Democratic Candidates - caricatures of (left to right) Lawrence Lessig (not invited or shown), Jim Webb, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley and Lincoln Chafee – by DonkeyHotey via flickr and used under a Creative Commons license

Republicans expressed anger and resentment at the lack of hate in the Democratic debate Tuesday night that pitted front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton against self-declared socialist candidate, Bernie Sanders.

“I’ve heard all this talk on the radio about how they are destroying this country, how he’s such a socialist, and she’s such a liar, I just expected fireworks and a meltdown, the kind of hatred and vitriol we take for granted at Republican debates and campaign rallies, and they just didn’t nail it,” said Ted Fletcher, who watched the debate with his family at their home in Satsuma, Ala.

“I kept looking for the narrative. I came away, frankly disillusioned, not knowing what, and who to hate, and why,” said Arthur Sacks, who watched at his home in Valdosta, Ga.

“The Republicans give you that because they’ve got answers. They aim you at the evil, whether its minorities, gays, or Mexicans, or Muslims, or whatever, because they know, once they point it out to us, Americans are always going to know how to take it from there.”

Instead, Clinton, Sanders, and three also-rans in the debate, just “babbled on about stuff that don’t mean nothing to nobody,” said Sacks, including income inequality and climate change, topics barely mentioned by GOP candidates in their first two debates.

“I’m not real worried about global warming, because, where I live the beach ain’t going to get here, and even if it did, I don’t care, I like to fish,” he said.

William Watson, a carpenter in Paducah, Kentucky, who watched the debate at a local tavern with friends who mostly hooted in derision at the Democratic candidates, said Democrats seem to live in a world far different from the one he experiences every day.

“We’ve got millions of Mexicans massed on our border, coming over here and taking our jobs and planting anchor babies like they’re laying sod,” said Watson. “And the Democrats are up there talking about Glass-Steagall. Excuse my French, but what the f—k is Glass-Steagall?”

Other Republicans expressed disgust and anger at the lack of personal attacks in the debate.

“Guys like Trump, the true leaders, who have the cojones to get it done, they don’t go candy ass political correct when they point out you’re fat woman or a doofus looking guy, like Rand Paul,” said Robert Phillips, who watched the debate from his home in Mt. Airy, North Carolina.

“If you’re fat, you’re fat! If your hair looks like a shag carpet bathroom throw rug, live with it!”

Republicans seethed over the failure of moderators and other candidates to get in Clinton’s face about the Congressional and FBI investigations into her e-mails related to the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans in 2012, when she was Secretary of State.

On light questioning from CNN moderator Anderson Cooper, Clinton said the investigation is just a partisan attack. Bernie Sanders jumped to her defense. “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails,” he said. Then the two rivals for the nomination shook hands.

Joseph Tilley, who watched the debate from his home in Bogalusa, La., said that summed up his disgust at the lack of hate in the debate.

“You had that lying Clinton woman on the ropes and you didn’t knock her out,” he said. “Now what kind of man does that make you? I’ll tell you exactly what kind of man it makes you. A socialist!

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted during the debate: “This is not a great debate – a little sad!”

On Wednesday, Jeb Bush joined a chorus of Republicans lamenting the lack of attacks on Clinton for her emails, telling Fox News: “Look, there’s an FBI investigation. She hasn’t been forthcoming.”

But Bill Matthews, who watched from his home in Biloxi, Mississippi, said all that stuff didn’t bother him as much as the lack of “zingers” between the candidates that brought a circus-like atmosphere to the GOP debates and made it great, entertaining television.

“When Bernie Sanders started talking about fossil fuels and sustainable energy I thought that was the opening all the other guys needed to jump on him about his age,” said Matthews. “I could just hear Hillary Clinton zinging back, ‘Shut up Bernie, you’re so old you fart fossil fuels.’ But, no, they just kept droning on and droning on and droning on.

“At that point, I flipped over to the ball game.”

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Image: 2016 Democratic Candidates - caricatures of (left to right) Lawrence Lessig (not invited or shown), Jim Webb, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, Lincoln Chafee and Joe Biden (not shown or decided) – by DonkeyHotey via flickr and used under a Creative Commons license.
Jeffry Scott

Jeffry Scott

Jeffry Scott is a former staff reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution where, over the course of 24 years, he covered two of the biggest trials in the city's history -- the racketeering trial of former mayor Bill Campbell, and the trial of courthouse shooter, Brian Nichols -- and wrote features on travel, food, politics, movies, TV and advertising, and covered breaking news on the metro desk. He left the paper two years ago and is living, quite happily, in St. Petersburg, Fla., as a freelance writer.